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    • February 14, 2016 2:02 PM EST
    • <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Buffalo Hunting in the Eastern Cape<img src="/public/album_photo/6c/25/07/7174e_0ff6.JPG?c=63da" alt=""></strong></span></p>
      <p>To many people, buffalo hunting at its best is when you meet face to face with an old dagga bull, staring at you with a half dropped head, dried out mud all over his neck and body and a real bewildered look in his eyes, the kind of look you get from your wife when she had send you to the shop to buy bread and milk, but instead you return with a six pack beer and a hunting magazine. You're looking at him and he is looking at you. One of you have to make a move. You think about it for a couple of seconds, but even before you're able to think it through, the bull shakes his head with a snort and charges. Wasting no more time you bring your rifle to your shoulder and pull the trigger. The .450 Rigby makes a loud thump. The spent case still hovers in the air when you bring the stock back for the second time, but you wait to see if the buffalo gets up. Your first shot hit him in the middle of his head and that made him drop to the ground only a couple of feet in front of you.</p>
      <p>That is rather exciting isn't it? But not all buffalo hunts end this way and a buffalo hunt doesn't have to end this way for it to be exciting. Back in the day when I started my career as professional hunter, I joined another PH on a trip to hunt buffalo in the valley bushveld of the Eastern Cape. Two clients from somewhere in Europe came to South Africa to hunt for buffalo particularly and their guide took them to a farm in the Grahamstown district, close to the Fish River. This particular area with its steep hills and dense Spekboom valleys would make it very difficult to spot any animal regardless of its size and shape. To top it all off was the fact that the hunt commenced in the beginning of January. Temperatures soared to forty degrees Celsius during the day which made it even more difficult to find these animals. Any living creature would head straight down the deepest valley with the most shade and hang around there until the heat passes. We walked and stalked most of the first two days but all we we’re able to find was a couple of heaps of buffalo dung, some of it fresh and some of it very old and dried out.</p>
      <p>On the morning of the third day, we we're informed that one of the farm workers had spotted two bulls on their own grazing in the direction of a small valley after spending some time at a watering hole. Without thinking about it we headed straight to where they were last seen. By now, the hunting party had grown quite a bit since the farm manager and owner both joined in. We got to the spot where they we’re last seen and started glancing the area for movement. After a couple of minutes, the guide spots them in an isolated patch of bush, no bigger than half a rugby field. The bush was, as expected quite dense, but a couple of clearings in and around the area made it possible for us to see them as they passed between trees while grazing. The hunting party settled down on a small cliff overlooking the area where the bulls had gone in and had a clear window in case one presents a shot. Then it is just a matter of waiting. Whoever has the most patience and skill, will prevail. The guide, not wanting us to make too much noise, instructed me to hold back a while. I settled down in the shade of a Jacket-Plum tree just a couple of yards behind them, far enough not to interfere, yet close enough not to miss any of the action.</p>
      <p>Many hours go by, but the two bulls stay put in the thicket in front of the hunters. After some five hours, one of the trackers gets send back to the pick up to fetch refreshments along with something to eat. He also brings with him a couple of meters of shade cloth. This is used to create some kind of protection from the midday heat, but should in the process also function as camouflage. The wait continues. Hours go by but the bulls remain in the thicket, only a glimpse of a horn now and then confirms that they are still there. Just about two hours before dark, the guide decides to make a move, figuring that the bulls might only come out of hiding after sunset, which obviously is no good for us. Slowly, they got up and started walking along the ridge to see if they cannot find a clear window to where the bulls were standing. They literally moved a meter per ten seconds, not batting an eye. At some point, this too didn’t seem to be working and the only option left, was to flush them out. By then, I have worked my way down onto the ridge where the group had been sitting all day and I then had the best view in the house – watching the hunters as they worked their way across the ridge, but also able to see the bulls when they move.</p>
      <p>The Hunter got set up on the shooting sticks, the PH, farm manager and owner all three takes up a similar positions, ready to back him up. One of the trackers is instructed to toss a stone as far as he can into the thicket, hopefully causing the bulls to leave the safety of the bush and this way, presenting a shot. The first two stones make a crackling sound as they hit all kinds of trees and branches, but no sight of the bulls. The tracker tries this a third time. All of a sudden, two big black bulls appear on the top left side of the thicket, making their way through a clearing towards a bigger thicket. If they reach it, they would be gone and we would be left with nothing but failure and sunburn. But then, the farm manager let out a very sharp, high pitched whistle. This draws the bulls attention and both of them stoped to try and figure out what it is they had heard. The bullet from the .375 H&amp;H makes a loud thumping sound when it hit the one bull solid on the shoulder. The hunter wastes no time and reloads to shoot again. By the time his second shot goes off, the bull is well on his way back down to the thicket and the thundering sounds of gunfire is all that was heard for the next fifteen seconds. All of a sudden it stops as the bull disappears between some bushes not more than a hundred metres from where it was first shot.<br> <br>The group waits for a good twenty minutes before making their way down towards where they had last seen the bull. One can never be too careful when commencing the follow up, especially on dangerous game such as buffalo. These animals will surely kill you if given the chance. They approach slowly and cautiously, trying to figure out if it is still isn’t. It has passed. One can only stare at this amazing animal in aw, imagining where it had been and what it had to do every day to elude and outperform any hunter who tried to hunt him down. This my friends, is what hunting is about. It is about pursuing your target animal every day, even though his tracks and dung is the only confirmation you have of his presence. It is about patience and persistence, about never giving up, no matter what the circumstances. It is about life and death. This is buffalo hunting at its best! </p>